Sunday, March 28, 2010

Shade Cobain - Cobainish Remixes (2010)

All tracks remixed by Shade Cobain

01. Intro - Pittsburgh (Idasa Tariq)
02. Love of My Life (Ode to Hip-Hop) (Erykah Badu feat. Common)
03. Fakin Jax (InI)

04. Emcee University (Re-Remix) (Jon Quest)
05. 10 Crack Commandments (Notorious B.I.G.)
06. Zeen (YD of Moola Gang)
07. I Get Money (50 Cent)

08. Mad Izm (Channel Live feat. KRS-One)

09. Mighty Deadly (Ghostface Killah)
10. Jumpin Out the Window (Ron Browz)
11. Whatever You Say (Little Brother)

12. Hey There Delilah (Plain White T's)


All tracks remixed by Shade Cobain

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Shade Cobain Interview

Shade Cobain's new album, Cobainish Remixes, will be available for free download, exclusively, right here on the Stilltown blog March 29, 2010. Soon after will be Cobainish Originals, featuring all original songs that were produced by Shade Cobain.

As a regular on the Pittsburgh hip-hop scene, I've been able to watch many local artists develop their craft right before my eyes. In recent years, no artist has shown more passion and progression than producer Shade Cobain. Aside from having a hand in the Shadow Lounge's Release Open Mic, and contributing to the Rhyme Calisthenics MC Competition, Shade is responsible for creating a soul-hop sound that has many local MC's chomping at the bit. Diggin', samplin', choppin', and equalizin' are only a few of the steps that go into Shade's production process. Stilltown had a chance to catch up with Shade and learn about his thoughts on sampling, his history as a music artist, and his plans for 2010.

Rory Webb: What do you believe is the artistic value of sampling in music?

Shade Cobain: It's just taking a raw piece a music and making it your own. I just love to find a groove with the right elements, which is instruments and the arrangement of those instruments. I just go in and chop the whole song and try to find a melody within the samples I've chopped. But the more original you sample the song, the more artistic I feel sampling becomes valuable. I gotta get me a beat video out, so I can be more about action than words...haha!!

RW: Can you describe the difference between a producer's beat being influenced by another producer as opposed to a producer biting another producer's work?

SC: The difference is originality!!! I feel that if you're influenced by an artist, you would want to who that artist was influenced by, instead of just copying their sound.

RW: As both an MC and producer, I would assume that you have dealt with both writer’s block and producer’s block at times. How have you been able to overcome these difficulties when they present themselves?

SC: To be honest with you fam, I'm still in writer's block!!! haha!! I better get out of it quick, because I got a solo album to do. But as for me getting to a beat block. I just leave music alone for a minute. I start playing Xbox360 or just watch movies for like a week. Then start diggin!! After I find something crazy, it all comes back and the next think you know, I got 4 beats done. Another way is to invite Thelonious Stretch to the lab. When me and him hook up it's frenzy. He just start rhyming and I have no choice but to make a beat. It's crazy sometimes fam!!!

RW: You're part of the Rhyme Calisthenics team, what can an emcee gain by being involved in the competition?

SC: An artist can learn his/her strengths and weaknesses at Rhyme Cal. It's built to make the emcee better and get them to learn all aspects of emceeing, it's not just about image.

RW: How has your involvement in the Release Open Mic helped you in your development as a musician?

SC: I remember coming in there just banging one drum kit. Throughout the years, I've learned drumming techniques from Daru Jones and Andrew Kirk. Melody arrangements from J. Armstead Brown, and stage presense. I'm just thinking about the beginning years... I was raw as ever!! But with all of that, I incorporate those things into my production. I got to tell you, the sound gets better and better.

RW: You recently joined forces with Idasa Tariq to form the group Mah Brotha. Being that you are both multi-talented artists, with skills in emceeing and producing, what should the people expect to hear in Mah Brotha's music?

SC: Mr. Tariq. That's my dude!! Ya'll going to hear some good music. We're patterning ourselves after EPMD, ATCQ, BlackStar, JayLib, Black Connection, and Apex, just to name a few. But it's also a learning experience. Labbin' with Idasa gets me to learn a whole lot of new school tricks, and he learns alot from me. You will hear appreciation for each other on both ends throughout the album. I cant wait for everybody to hear what we got cooked up!!

RW: What many fans are unaware of is that, in the past, you were a member of a variety of short-lived groups - Biani, Da Funk, HighLights, and Probable Qoz. Can you build on your history as a part of these crews?

SC: Well, Da Funk was the first group I was in, I was like 17. It was with my good homie Misfit, aka Dray Woods. He used to be in the studio at the Kingley Center in East Liberty. He would come home (Collins Ave./E. Liberty) and play his music. This dude would be like, "come up here and do a song." I went and never left a lab since. At that time Dray was going to college, and I didn't know what direction the group was going. So I hooked up with this fresh up-and-coming 412 group at the time called Biani. Biani was myself, Thelonious Stretch, TaQuiest, Infinite Tension, Snookie Da Brick, Shortee, and J-Flint. Everything was cool til the creative differences happened, then everybody just went their seperate ways. Well, not really, because we just dropped some cats, picked up a couple more, and became HighLights. At that time we did shows at Pitt, Club Laga, and Justin Strong's backyard. I really don't know what happened to the HighLights because, at that time, I left Pittsburgh and went to the Marines. After I came home from the Marines, TaQueist and I became Probable Qoz. There was a lot going for us, but I had a lot of baggage. I couldn't focus on music. I left it alone til 2006. At that time I hooked back up with TaQuiest to form Rotunda Muzic. Now here we are!!!

RW: What drove you back to the art of making music?

SC: To be honest with you, I felt incomplete. I know it sounds cliche, but it's the truth. Music was and is a part of my life. During those couple of years I would hear music and just hate on it. Then a part of me was like, "you're not doing it, so why you yap runnin'?" Within that month, I got back on the machines and never turned back. I'll tell you this much, IT WON'T HAPPEN AGAIN!! Music is a part of me!!!

RW: How have these experiences translated to your current aspirations as an artist?

SC: It taught me to keep going. Never give up!! It also made me learn not to make the same mistakes again.

RW: Your new album, Cobainish Remixes, will be available on March 29. Why did you decide to do a remix album?

SC: I've always wanted to remix songs. There's songs that make me say, "if I made the beat!" So I challenged myself. I was like, let me grab some of my favorite songs locally, and indusrty, and put my touch on it. The next thing I know I got a remix album.

RW: Can you describe production process of remixing a song?

SC: Well, I first try to find an acapella of the track I want to produce. Find that, then listen to the original to find the feel of the track. Then match the acapella up to a certain bpm and just build around the lyrics. I try to incorporate a whole new feel, different from the original. Give it my bounce!!

RW: Aside from the Cobainish Remixes project, what else do you have in store for the fans in 2010?

SC: I produced the whole Divine Seven's Life and Times of Dat Turner series. The first part will be out 4.12.09. I've done at least a third of Thelonious Stretch's Boom Bap. The MAHBROTHA dip, J. Armstead Brown's Fieldwork Remixes, Rhyme Cal mixtape, and my solo debut Euphoria Theory which should be out by September. I also have some tracks on deck from Jon Quest, GQ tha Teacha(Chicago), Beedie, Kid A, YD from Moola Gang, 41Duece, Davu(SF), Jasiri X, and hopefully Living Proofe. And that's what's already done or in the works...haha. I got a full plate for 2010!!!

Check out these remixes that will be featured on the album Cobainish Remixes. On March 29, 2010 the album will be available for free download, exclusively, right here on the Stilltown blog.

InI - "Fakin Jax" (Shade Cobain Remix)

Jon Quest - "Emcee University" (Shade Cobain Re-Remix)

Also, be sure to check back soon for Cobainish Originals, featuring all original tracks produced by Shade Cobain!

Jon Quest - "Emcee University," from the forthcoming album Cobainish Originals

Jon Quest, Beedie, and Divine Seven - "Shadow Loungin'," from the forthcoming album Cobainish Originals

Shade Cobain's new album, Cobainish Remixes, will be available for free download, exclusively, right here on the Stilltown blog March 29, 2010. Soon after will be Cobainish Originals, featuring all original songs that were produced by Shade Cobain.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Team Stovall at the Hard Rock Cafe March 26, 2010

If you're in Pittsburgh this weekend, check out this huge spring kick-off concert at the Hard Rock Cafe in Station Square. The party goes down Friday, March 26 and doors open at 10pm. Performances on this night include Common Wealth Family, The Peace Project and Team Stovall. Each of these bands can be argued for as the best band in the city, so an opportunity to see all of them together shouldn't be passed up.

Following the performances, DJ Selecta will be on the wheels of steel!

Here's some more info on the high energy line-up:


They are the staple of tomorrows trends, style, sound, and vision. Determined to see their mission through of taking over your media towers and outlets, they are constantly creating new wave music and entertainment in to their line-up and flawless approach.

As COMMON WEALTH FAMILY makes strides through the entertainment industry of their backyards of Pittsburgh, PA, it is obvious that they transfer your mind to other places and leave you with a lasting impression at every Pit Stop. The perfect combination to a city locked on popular music, COMMON WEALTH FAMILY draws energy, vibe, and drive from the likes of a medley of entertainers, not just want you hear on your radio dials or on what you tune in to on your television tube. They reach deep back into the collectors closet of genres of the 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's for inspiration and fuse for their influences of electronic, soul, rap, rock, and pop to bleed greatness in songs such as [Rollin' Witta Star] and [Stupid Girl]. R.i. Double, Mose Butch, [gR], and Roscoe Wiki form the COMMON WEALTH FAMILY, The Black Beatles of Beyond, taking to your stages like a bat out the cage, prepared to serve their audiences daily, taking the daily operations of their music as a career, pouring into its existence hourly.

With the dream in sight to take their evolution to the next notch very shortly, COMMON WEALTH FAMILY has 100 plus shows in, countless media plugs, magazines, sponsors, and recognized as the Best Group spoken and voted at 2009 Pittsburgh Hip Hop Awards, speaks volume to their demand for themselves and from
others. COMMON WEALTH FAMILY honors what "Family" means, how "Wealth" is achieved and the "Common" message they want you to receive.


Hailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, THE PEACE PROJECT is arriving fresh and uncharted! The band, launched by lead singer/songwriter and keyboardist Peace Ike, came together in 2009 to create a style that has yet to show its face on the Pittsburgh scene. Having started out as a solo artist for many years, Peace is no stranger to the world of composition and performance. Since 2003, she has been combining graceful keys with “tell it like it is lyrics” about life, love and purpose. Having recently crossed over into full -band mode, THE PEACE PROJECT continues to generate situational and relatable songs with a catchy melody that most listeners can appreciate.

THE PEACE PROJECT combines piano with rhythmic bass, smooth sax and rocking drum beats— creating a rhythmically driven fusion of soul/jazz/R&B and funk. Taking a contemporary approach to music genres that have been stifled and outdated in most recent years, THE PEACE PROJECT introduces Pittsburgh to soul-jazz of the 21st century. Stay tuned for what’s to come from this innovative and fresh new group!


In 1995, Gene Stovall (then known as GENo JIVE) started a band that mashed up 6 genres of music and lead 11 Pittsburgh based performing artist into Duquesne University's "Battle of the Bands" contest and won 1st prize. That contest was Gene Stovall's first gig as a band leader. It was also the first time that anybody heard Stovall's original music. That was 15 years ago. Stovall has spent most of the last 15 years perfecting the art of band building and event coordination..not to mention penning some great poetry.

You may know Gene Stovall as the front man of Jive Family (Pittsburgh), Eviction Notice (Pittsburgh), The Rhetoric (Chicago), or The AUDIBLE (Erie). In these bands, Stovall performed original compositions and rearranged pop classics such as The Beatles classic "Strawberry Fields Forever", Nirvana's smash hit "Heart Shaped Box", Radiohead's dark rock ballad "Karma Police", and The Talking Head's disturbingly fun "Psycho Killer". Fans of the Stovallian song book always like listening to his dark love ballad "Heaven in the Meantime" and the more upbeat "Thinkin' About The Way You Lay".

Stovall and Urban Kontent Brand released a live album in 2003 called "Gene Stovall: Live at the Shadow Lounge"'s now a rare collect-able.

Stovall's musical focus, as of late, has been his CONTRAST Music Events. These concerts put Stovall's spin on the music of a particular band. These events started in Erie, PA. at the Docksider Tavern in April 2009 with "Wu Tang Clan vs Nirvana". He is most proud of his work on the music of Earth Wind and Fire with newly formed super group, TEAM STOVALL.

TEAM STOVALL will perform with CWF and The Peace Project Friday, March 26th at the Hard Rock Café. This Pittsburgh All-Star line up includes Gene Stovall (vocals), Andy Bianco (guitar), Justin Bechak (keys), Jeremy McDonald (bass), and James Johnson III (drums). TEAM STOVALL will perform Stovallian originals and some Radiohead remakes/remixes... and some other surprises.

And check out some videos of performces by Gene Stovall:

And while we're on the subject, check out this incredibly dope video from Interval Monday at AVA Lounge. Vocal performers are Dr. Strange K., Gene Stovall, and Lorens Chuno, on keys is Howie Alexander, drums by James Johnson III, and Tony DePaolis on bass:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Concrete Elete - Basic Instructions: Listen... and Repeat (199x)

Refer to my past post on Concrete Elete for more info on this Pittsburgh hip-hop crew. Basic Instructions was released around 1997-98, sadly I don't have any cover scans, if anyone can post 'em it would be appreciated. Regardless, the music is heat... Check out the highlighted tracks.

01. Intro
02. Dat First Shit
03. We Got U
04. Raw Dilly
05. Where U At
06. Interlude
07. Physical Anger
08. Khalifahs
09. I Don't Know
10. Takin Over

11. Fugitive

12. Concrete Veteran
13. Shinin
14. Patent Leather
15. Droppin Styles
16. Johanisburg

17. Survive
18. Concrete
19. Outro

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

ChaRon Don & DJ Huggy (Hands Down) - Mental Combustion (2001)

Hands Down most recently made waves in hip-hop circles with their 2007 release Art of Life. But for a decade prior to its release, the duo of ChaRon Don and DJ Huggy were active participants in the Pittsburgh hip-hop scene. Both members graduated from Schenley High School and have continued to build and develop as music artists since.

What I am presenting today is some of the groups early work. The album is titled Mental Combustion and was released in 2001. It features fellow Pittsburghers Dashon, Ron Noodles, and RXC among others. A young ChaRon sounds something like a conventional 9th Prince, of the Wu-affiliated Killarmy, while Huggy's production sounds best when there's an eery ambience to it.

Instead of posting a link to the entire album, I picked out a few of my favorites for you to check out. I'll be digging into the crates of Pittsburgh hip-hop throughout this year, so stay tuned for more music that has yet to be unearthed on the interwebs.

01. The Church Sermon (feat. Soul Dean)
02. Raw Passion

03. Streets is Watchin
04. Penny Candy
05. Brotha's & Sista's

06. Hype to Def (feat. Dashon)
07. Infinite Measures
08. Linguistic Terrorism (feat. Ron Noodles)
09. I Love You (feat. Renassaince)
10. Say Grace (feat. Rashad)
11. The Young & The Wreckless (feat. Nabri Savior & Sha-King)
12. U Count (feat. Don Juan & Ill Gill)

13. When Cries Lose Tears (feat. Zay-Zay)
14. Ms. Barbie (feat. Justuce & Soul Dean)
15. Street Journal (feat. Mr. Story)
16. Enough is Enough (feat. Caleesh & Will)
17. I Grabbed the Mic [And Asked the Crowd]
18. Mental Combustion (feat. T-Diddy)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Beenafactors - The Balcony (2010)

Beenafactors (Been-A-Factors) are Amen, GEO, J. Brown, and Rell Mac. Hailing from Pittsburgh, PA, The Balcony is the crew's debut mixtape release. The production is laced with soulful samples and plays background to street savvy rhymes. These four MC's kick knowledge reminiscent of early State Property.


01. Can't Kill the Dreamer (Intro)
02. Show n Prove (J. Brown, Amen, GEO)
03. Fill Ya Mind (J. Brown, Amen, GEO, Rell Mac)
04. Wake Up Call (Amen)
05. The Block (Amen, J. Brown, Rell Mac, GEO)
06. Dope Fiend Blues (Interlude)
07. Confessions (GEO)

08. Same Route (J. Brown, GEO, Rell Mac)
09. My Brother (GEO)

10. Spaz Out (Amen, GEO, Rell Mac)
11. 4 Years Ago... (Rell Mac)
12. Family Bullshit (J. Brown, GEO, Amen, Mac)

You can get affiliated with Beenafactors at:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ayatollah Jaxx - Hello Hip-Hop (2010)

You've seen the name right here on Stilltown a lot in the past few months. Well, the time has come, and the Ayatollah's debut album Hello Hip-Hop is now available.

GodSendant has two versions of the album. There is a free download version for the curious listener, and also a special edition priced at $5.99 for the supportive listener. The special edition features five additional songs, which are well worth the low selling price.

1. Mister Randy Watson (performed by Terry Jones)
2. Hello, Hip Hop (prod/feat Fundamental Of Good Company)
3. Aint It True (feat UnLearn) (prod TPM)

4. Shoe Horn (prod Chim Beatz)
5. I Will Not Lose (prod/feat Roscoe Wiki)
6. Nothing Like You Ever Heard (prod Chim Beatz)
7. Coming of Age (prod TPM)

8. Sound Boy (performed by Terry Jones)
9. Wha Gwan?! (Sound Boy Burrial) (prod Chim Beatz)

10. Probably Wack (prod BusCrates)
11. Bitter Sweet (feat R.A.H) (prod Chim Beatz)
12. Deen Tight (prod Chim Beatz)
13. This Is For The Radio (feat Jasiri X) (prod B-FreeDaMisfit)
14. Street Hop Remix (feat Living Proofe) (prod Chim Beatz)
15. Reflection (prod TPM)
16. Job Fair (prod Chim Beatz)
17. Pain (feat R.A.H) (prod Chim Beatz)
18. Ms. 416 (prod Fundamental)

Bonus Tracks
Children Of The Ghetto (prod TPM)
Where You From (feat APEX) (prod Chim Beatz)


Friday, March 5, 2010

APEX Interview

APEX is a Pittsburgh rap duo that has been skyrocketing through the local hip-hop scene. Based on their rhyming and performance skills, it's evident that Aris and Pre-Sense have put in the time and effort required to develop one's craft. But these aren't your average here today, gone tomorrow MC's. Their hip-hop education dates back to the late 1980's, as it should, and their resumes show more than a decade of experience in destroying microphones.

Rory Webb: How were you introduced to hip-hop?

Aris: Believe it or not my mom influenced me very much with the music she listen to. She used to enjoy a lot of Rnb/Hip Hop infused music. I remember her listening to Michael Jackson, Will Smith, New Edition, Prince and others. My Dad was more into Billy Joel and Frank Sinatra type artists. All music has had some kind of impression on me though. I was also introduced to hip hop through Mtv and other sources of media I guess. The first Hip Hop albums I remember getting were Public Enemy - Fear of a Black Planet, Redman - Whut Thee Album, 3rd Base - The Cactus Album. and LL Cool J - Mama Said Knock You Out. Was a huge fan of those artist growing up among others.

Pre-Sense: I am four years younger than Aris, so when I was ten years old, he was fourteen. If you think about how much you grew in maturity and experience from the time you were ten years old to fourteen, it becomes a big age gap. Four years younger or older doesn’t mean much at the age we are now, but when you’re young, it really is a huge gap. I was the little kid who looked up to the older brother, or in this case, cousin, Aris. He was the one who really introduced me to a lot of hip-hop. Of course there was MTV and radio, which was totally awesome back then, but Aris would introduce me to so much more than media outlets ever did. And moreover, it was the experience of listening to it with your crew and watching the effect it had on everyone. I can remember listening to NWA, Public Enemy, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, and so many more, all of these were introduced to me by Aris, he always seemed to have all the cassettes and CD’s. He introduced a lot to me at an early age, some good, some bad. (haha)

RW: What inspired each of you to be an MC?

Aris: The culture itself…I loved the message, break dancing (although I was never good at it), the beats, the style, and I thought the artist were cool as hell! I could relate to some, not all, but some of the things they’d talk about more than any other genre. I just love the music…it’s what I grew up on. New Castle actually produced these Artists by the name of “Slo Motion”. I remember hearing them for the first time and seeing they had a legit CD printed up…they sounded pretty good. That also influenced me and made me understand that it was possible for us to do the same.

Pre-Sense: I think I just always had a want to be heard. I would listen to albums so thoroughly that I literally knew every word to every song. I would place myself in these artist shoes and really try to portray the effect that they were having on their fans. I was so taken in by the music, I felt like it defined me, it’s something that separated me from my other friends, I was the one who rapped. It was my passion, and like any passion, you try to put your passion into motion, so that’s what I did. Some people just listen to music, though I don’t have a word to describe it, but what I did with music was much more than just listen. I really dove in and sometimes envisioned myself being that artist and how the world would react to me, I glorified it. I wanted to be it, so that’s what I did.

RW: You’ve been doing live performances for about 12 years now. Can you talk about any particularly memorable shows that you were a part of?

Aris: For me…it was just starting out. I’m originally from New Castle (I currently reside in Ambridge, Pa) and in New Castle there was never much of a Hip Hop scene. There are Hip Hop artists but nowhere really for us to display our talents. Anyway, when we started out, we’d do shows where we were opening for rock cover bands. The Live Animals was the first group to let us open up for them. We performed at a venue called the BOMB SHELTER (no longer in business). We were playing for people who were older than us for the most part and not that much into what we were doing. Bikers and shit! But we grew and we got to hone our performing skills in the process.

Pre-Sense: There is nothing more memorable to me than what we are doing right now. These shows that we have been doing with all these artists, such as Common Wealth Family, Ayatollah Jaxx, Divine Seven, Verbs, Vaig, and the list goes on, it’s just awesome to me. To be a part of a movement and tear down these venues week after week, it’s just something I will never forget. It’s going to be such a memorable part of my life, because right now, I feel like we are all really making an impact, right now I could walk off stage and stand in the crowd as a fan and watch these other Pittsburgh artists and be a true fan, not just a fan “because,” but a true fan. We are in these venues week after week, sometimes day after day, in the light shows, fog machines, and huge sounds, it’s a great feeling. So right now, these are the most memorable shows I have been a part of. Pittsburgh is in the building, literally!

RW: During the 18 months between the releases of Face the Musik and Struggle City, what elements of your music did you strive to improve on most?

Aris: Me personally…everything. I just feel that you can never stop improving as an individual, or at your craft, so I’m always trying to better myself in some way. I always feel I can improve my writing, be more lyrical, my cadence, delivery, and at the same time give the people, our fans, something they can relate to or enjoy at any point in time in their lives.

Pre-Sense: EVERYTHING, from the shows, the beats, the lyrics, the content, the arrangement, the vocals, the hustle, so on and so on. I feel like we did a pretty good job at it too. I was really trying to improve on the way I put words together. Throughout the “Face The Musik” album, I did 99% of the writing for that album in my head. But with this “Struggle City” album I actually sat down to pen these verses except in the earlier stages of recording for this album, so I’d say 3 to 4 songs were written in my head, without paper, but I’m really enjoying the actual writing as of late. The thing I would like to work on most is trying to get out everything I feel in my heart into a song, I do a good job of it, but when I sit down and listen to some of these great artists, they seem to do it with so much ease. I’m getting there, but I think that’s my biggest weakness, maybe because I have so much in my heart and in my head, that it gets tough to sift through all these thoughts and feelings, I’m getting there though, you watch and listen to our next project!

RW: Your producer of choice has been Czientist, of Germany. How has the partnership developed since the first collaboration?

Aris: Well…I located Czi through Myspace and he was a cool kat right out the gate. He’s just good people. He’s always had our backs 100%. Our relationship I guess has developed as much as it can when your conversation consists of nothing but text but we’d obviously love to meet him in person someday and just throw back some Beck‘s, let him try some Iron City and shoot the shit. I do think we’ve all improved in some way or another as artists. Czientist is an incredible, inspiring producer and we hope to continue working with him for years to come.

Pre-Sense: Czientist, Czientist, Czientist, two words…ill producer! There aren’t too many producers that make me want to write, not just want to write, but need to write. Some of Czientists production, when I listen to it, I need to write. Aside from production, he is an awesome dude. Though we haven’t met face to face yet, we talk through this worldwide connection called the internet all the time. He has become a friend, he does a lot to help us out too. You can get beats from anywhere, but I know that Czientist actually believes in us and will do his best to promote us. Aris actually found Czientist on MySpace, he digs hard to find great producers and great ways to get our music out there, so props to Aris, his hustle is extremely intense. So from the first song that we recorded on a Czientist beat, which I believe it was “The City,” it has transformed into a great friendship and respect for each others talents.

RW: In the past, hip-hop duo’s have had commercial success – EPMD, Mobb Deep, OutKast, UGK. Why do you think groups are such a rarity in mainstream hip-hop today?

Aris: I think it’s hard to maintain any kind of a group relationship. Egos get in the way, differences of opinion, money, what have you. People also want to explore themselves and maybe take their careers in a different direction than the other individual. I’m not sure if mainstream, underground, or whatever the case, plays any kind of direct role in why the group entity is such a rarity.
By the way, I'm a huge fan of all the artists you mentioned. They inspire us every day to do what we do.

Pre-Sense: I miss groups. Some of my favorite artists were groups. Mobb Deep, A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, The Roots, Outkast I just miss it. I don’t know if it has to do with greed or not, or maybe the struggle of working with a group, because it can get tough when everybody has different ideas and directions they want to head. But nobody seems to be in groups anymore. I think it’s a great thing when people can work together. Apex is not without its struggles and fights, Aris has ideas, and I may have different, sometimes his ideas are better, sometimes mine may be better. Whatever the case is, we always seem to work it out and get out what needs to be out. I always hear in my head what I want to hear before a song is recorded, Aris may hear something different. It frustrates us sometimes, but at the end of the day, I think it adds a lot to our music. I couldn’t imagine doing this by myself, it wouldn’t be nearly as fun. I encourage groups. Bring back the groups! (I’m going to listen to Mobb Deeps “Murda Musik” now.)

Real quick, I just wanna say thanks to you for doing what you’re doing for the Pittsburgh Hip Hop scene. Its greatly appreciated. We also wanna thank everyone, fans, friends, and family, who’ve been supporting us throughout the years and everyone who continues to support this hip hop movement. Thanks to all the artists who are part of this movement for contributing your art and inspiring us to move forward and chase our dream. We’re extremely grateful to all of you.

Struggle City is now available on iTunes and

Their debut album, Face the Musik, can also be found on iTunes or

APEX featuring Ayatollah Jaxx - "Bullet In My Heart," from the album Face the Musik

APEX - "Get Ready," from the album Struggle City

APEX featuring Beedie & Mac Miller - "Going Underground, from the album Struggle City

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Stilltown Presents: Ayatollah Jaxx - Nothing Like You Ever Heard

Nothing Like You Ever Heard features a collection of promotional songs, guest spots, and unreleased songs.


01. A Voice of Concern - 2007
02. Killin It (Prod. by B-Free) - 2009

03. The Conscious Casanova (Prod. by J-Fish) - 2009
04. Sucka For Love - 2009
05. Ms. 416 (Prod. by Fundamental of Good Company) - 2008
06. Another Day (Prod. by Pittsburghreese) - 2008
07. Real Rap - 2007
08. P.S.A. (Prod. by BusCrates) - 2008
09. Keep the Piece (Prod. by Chim Beatz) - 2009

10. Al-Haram - 2007
11. Bullet In My Heart (Prod. by Czientist) - A.P.E.X. feat. Ayatollah
Jaxx - 2008
12. Let You Know feat. Clap Cognac (Prod. by Krohme) - 2008
13. Eye Gets Ill (Prod. by Doc Cause) - 2008
14. Want To Be So Fly Remix (Prod. by Nova) - Nova feat. Ayatollah
Jaxx & Katrina Bello - 2008
15. I Don't Wanna Know feat. Dominique Larue, Jon Quest, & Beedie
(Prod. by J-Fish) - 2009

Purchase Hello Hip-Hop at GodSendant on March 9, 2010
Both the free download and the special edition will be available on that date.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Album Review // Ayatollah Jaxx - Hello, Hip-Hop (Special Edition)

Get Hello, Hip-Hop at GodSendant March 9, 2010

This charismatic rebel of an MC digs deep into his personal experiences to welcome the hip-hop community. Hello Hip-Hop proves to be more than a simple introduction. The album administers both a glimpse into the past and an outlook on the current state of hip-hop.

The first high-point of the album comes on “Ain’t It True,” where Jaxx is accompanied by fellow MC UnLearn. A righteous Jaxx speaks on his father’s struggle dealing with debt and medical issues while maintaining an “incredible will” throughout life. In an era that is being referred to as The Great Recession, it’s a story that many people can relate to. It gives insight into what has kept this MC driven in the pursuit of his dream, and expresses his strong passion as an artist.

He continues to tell his story on “Coming of Age,” which is laced with a chopped sample of Minnie Riperton’s classic “Inside My Love.” Jaxx speaks on his troubles as a youth, getting into fights and dealing with family situations that were out of his control. The problems stuck with him through his teens as he explains his attempt to beat conviction following a fight that ended in his arrest while possessing a pistol.

On “Probably Wack” and “This Is For the Radio,” Jaxx expresses his disdain for mainstream media and music. Pittsburgh activist and MC Jasiri X contributes a verse on the latter, mentioning the city losing it’s only black radio station, WAMO. “That’s what happens when you don’t support local artists,” claims Jasiri over the glaring horns.

Jaxx pays homage to the Pittsburgh hip-hop scene on “Reflection.” Rhymes about “wack labels,” jealousy, and respect give retrospect to his experiences as a member of the music industry. He finishes the 32-bar verse by acknowledging the city’s past-time. “Dre came to visit, RZA had to leave,” which refers to Dr. Dre recruiting Pittsburgher’s Mel-Man and Sam Sneed to his production team, and a young RZA spending time in the city.

Aside from the detailed story-telling, Jaxx delivers with a variety of styles and topics. He clearly thrives on up-tempo beats that allow him to invoke his long-winded breath control. However, his versatility is what separates him from so many other artists. The album truly holds something for everyone.

While staying true to the boom bap hip-hop sound that underground fan-boys love, Jaxx also exercises his mainstream appeal with the street anthem “I Will Not Lose.” A briefly auto-tuned Roscoe Wiki sings “you will not win this battle,” and continuing without auto-tune “you don’t wanna sound clash me nothin’,” reminiscent of Kanye West’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.” As the beat drops and returns, Jaxx attacks with a slow flow, proclaiming himself as “the ‘Burgh’s Rakim.”

Hello Hip-Hop will gratify all fans of hip-hop music. Ayatollah Jaxx speaks the voice of a generation that has dealt with an array of corruption and misunderstanding. He tells a tale of adolescence and vanquish. With this album, he is actively pursuing a better tomorrow for both himself and his audience.

Get Hello, Hip-Hop at GodSendant March 9, 2010
Both the free download version and a special edition featuring extra tracks will be available.

Check back tomorrow for the prequel mixtape to the album, Stilltown Presents... Ayatollah Jaxx: Nothing Like You Ever Heard, featuring a mix of promotional tracks, unrealesed songs, and guest spots!